The introductory paragraph identifies your topic, provides necessary background information about your topic, and states your argument—also known as your thesis sentence—about the topic. Begin your essay by identifying and discussing the topic related to the benefits or disadvantages of college that you’ve chosen to research. Transition to the viewpoints about the topic; that is, identify your side of the argument and the opposing side of the argument. The final sentence of your introduction is your thesis statement; that is, what is your argument about the topic you’ve chosen about the benefits or disadvantages of college?
In six to ten body paragraphs, you will back up your argument, present and explain your opposition (i.e. counterargument/“naysayer”), and provide a rebuttal to disprove the opposition’s viewpoints. Aim for five to ten sentences per paragraph, approximately 80 to 120 words. Each body paragraph begins with a topic sentence, paired with a transitional phrase, which states the main idea of that paragraph. These topic sentences are extensions of your thesis statement. You will then combine your ideas/points with evidence from your sources to support the paragraph’s topic sentence. Remember: Your essay must reference at least two articles from “Chapter Seventeen: Is College the Best Option?” and at least two reliable scholarly/professional sources (i.e. journal articles or web sources approved by the instructor) related to your topic.
Since you are citing evidence from your sources, you must include parenthetical citations at the end of each sentence that references ideas from your sources—whether you paraphrase (i.e. put author’s ideas in your own words) or use direct quotes. If you use direct quotes, make sure you “sandwich” them, as described in “Chapter 3: As He Himself Puts It- The Art of Quoting.” Try to reference evidence from two of your sources in each body paragraph. Very important: Do not use the body paragraphs to summarize your sources. Instead, evidence from your sources simply reinforce your argument and provide you with backup to persuade your audience that your side of the issue is correct. You do not want the source material to overshadow your argument. In other words, you are using what they say to back up what you say! For more information, review “Part I: They Say” and “Part II: I Say” in the textbook. Lastly, the final one or two sentences of each body paragraph explain the connection between the cited evidence and that paragraph’s topic sentence.
In terms of organizing your body paragraphs, think of your final research essay as a written debate. Use the first two or three body paragraphs to make your argument (i.e. prove your thesis statement) with evidence from your sources. Then transition to one or two more body paragraphs in which you acknowledge and explain your opposition’s point of view (i.e. counterargument/naysayer); again, you will be referencing ideas from your sources. For more information about counterarguments/naysayers, refer to “Chapter 6: Skeptics May Object” of the textbook. After discussing the naysayer, use the last one or two body paragraphs to strengthen your argument while weakening your opposition’s perspective by rebutting, or arguing against, the opposition’s point of view; that is, you will be pointing out the flaws in the opposition’s reasoning.
In your concluding paragraph, you will reiterate your argument, identify important points about your argument and your opposition, and explain the importance of your position on the issue you’ve chosen regarding the benefits and/or disadvantages of college. Remember: Do not include new points, ideas, or evidence in the conclusion paragraph. If you did not present information in your body paragraphs, then you should not present that information as you wrap up your essay.
Author Last Name, Author First Name. “Title of Article from Textbook.” They Say/I Say with Readings, 4th ed., edited by Graff, Birkenstein, Durst, W. W. Norton & Company, 2018, pp. page range.
Author Last Name, Author First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, vol. volume number, no. issue number, Year, pp. page range, doi: or URL.